DefinitionHepatitis B is a liver disease. It can be acute or chronic. Acute hepatitis B usually goes away on its own and may not need treatment.Chronic hepatitis B is an infection that lasts more than 6 months. Chronic infection can lead to other health problems. Hepatitis B is treated with antiviral medications.
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CausesHepatitis B is caused by a virus. The virus causes swelling and irritation in the liver and makes it difficult for the liver to function normally.The hepatitis B virus (HBV) is spread by semen, vaginal secretions, saliva, blood, or body fluids from an infected person. The virus can pass from these fluids to your body through an open cut in your skin.A woman with hepatitis can also pass HBV to her baby during childbirth.
Risk FactorsFactors that may increase your chance of getting hepatitis B include:
- Illicit drug injection use, especially when sharing needles
- Unprotected sexual contact, especially with multiple partners
- Sharing a residence and/or personal items with someone who has HBV
- Stay in hospital or long-term care facility
- Hemodialysis treatment
- Work that includes contact with blood or body fluids, such as health care or public safety workers
- Travel to areas where HBV is common
SymptomsIt is possible that someone infected with HBV may never have symptoms of hepatitis B.If symptoms do develop, they appear around 60-150 days after exposure. Hepatitis B may cause:
- Fatigue that lasts for weeks or months
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea or vomiting
- Low-grade fever
- Jaundice —a yellowing skin and eyes
- Abdominal pain in the upper right side of the abdomen
- Joint pain
- Dark urine and light-colored stool
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